COUNTERING STATE CAPTURE
Anti-graft summit — ‘Intensity of fighting apartheid must be harnessed to fight scourge of SA corruption’
At the International Anti-Corruption Day summit in Pretoria on Thursday, Lord Hain proposed measures to prevent future State Capture, including a new International Anti-Corruption Court.
One of the ways in which corruption can be eradicated in South Africa is to use the same intensity used to fight against the oppressive apartheid regime, or the country will turn into a failed state.
This was a broader sentiment expressed at the international anti-corruption day summit, held at Pretoria under the auspices of “Uniting the World Against Corruption: Anti-Corruption Policies and Programmes: How to Better Collaborate to Improve Implementation and Impact”.
Among the key speakers was former British anti-apartheid leader and Labour cabinet minister, Lord Hain who took stock of lessons learnt and provided measures to prevent future State Capture.
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The measures include the establishment of a new International Anti-Corruption Court, referral of officials taking bribes at driving school testing centers and Home Affairs and pressing the US and UK governments to get all the complicit global corporates and global banks headquartered in US and UK cities to open their books and reveal where the billions looted from South Africa went and to help return it.
Another key recommendation was for the government to urgently engage the government of India to get the authorities in Delhi to arrest the controversial Guptas brothers and seize their assets in the country to return looted funds.
“Corruption in South Africa is like a cancer infecting every part of a human body, and which deters tourists and investors and will turn the country into a failed state if it is not eradicated,” said Hain.
Executive director at WhistleBlower House, Cynthia Stimpel who lit a candle in memory of whistleblowers remarked that, “State Capture and corruption continues in fact, it never did end”.
This as she challenged the idea, often advanced by government officials, that significant progress was being made in winning the war against corruption and State Capture.
“The facts and lived experiences of ordinary people in this country tells us otherwise, instead of turning the tide of corruption we are now facing a tsunami of corruption and state capture cases,” said Stimpel.
Legacy of corruption
Dr Somadoda Fikeni, Commissioner of the Public Service Commission echoed similar sentiments, going as far as linking corruption to apartheid.
“Today, after all revelations up to the Zondo Commission we realise that the biggest challenge we face is corruption. Apartheid was a minority rule that took from the majority and gave the minority. Corruption is a minority rule that takes from the majority and gives to the minority”
The intensity used to fight against the oppressive regime is precisely what is needed in the fight against corruption whether it’s in public or private sector, NGO or religious spaces, it should not matter. “We should all wage the struggle against corruption.”
Fikeni also stressed the need for an integrated approach as it had been clear that the government or the private sector could not fight alone.
“As the PSC and our partners, we are saying, if not you who will do it? If not now, when will it be done, and if not here where will it be done.
And this is a generational mission of our time to say corruption is the new apartheid that we should all combine forces, it should not be a football for any elections. It should be an all time struggle, it should be something that we talk about and pursue even beyond elections, because it is a cancer which must be removed,” said Fikeni.
He outlined a number of “concrete” programmes his office had embarked on to prevent another state capture bid. These include lifestyle audits and the development of a framework for the professionalisation of public service.
“If you get the right people who are appointed because of their competence and not loyalty, you are one step ahead.”
Meanwhile, Deputy President Paul Mashatile said the scourge of corruption called for a united front, stressing the government’s commitment to eliminating corruption and dealing harshly with those who partake in it.
However, the government has been widely criticised for its inaction in the fight against corruption. Last month, Daily Maverick reported that the work done by the State Capture Commission, chaired by Zondo at a cost of just over R1-billion, has been lauded internationally as extraordinary, despite the snail’s pace in implementing key findings at home.
Read more in Daily Maverick: Corruption has reached ‘unacceptable proportions’ — Chief Justice Zondo
Mashatile however said, “we are striving to create a corruption-free South Africa through the National Anti-corruption Advisory Council, an intersectional partnership that fights fraud and corruption through advocacy and action. The council is an independent body that supports the anti-corruption anti-crime initiatives of the various law enforcement authorities to enhance the nation’s diversity to eradicate corruption from both society and the administration to bolster investor confidence and establish greater levels of public trust,” he said.
Fikeni also touched on what Justice Zondo has been championing — the protection and incentivisation of whistleblowers as they were key stakeholders in putting an end to State Capture.
“It cannot be right that whistleblowers have to go into exile in a democratic society because they do not feel safe, it should be our battle because this is in the public good,” he said.
Mashatile echoed similar sentiments. “Whistleblowing is an essential weapon in the fight against corruption. However, it is more important that we develop strong mechanisms or strategies to ensure that whistle-blowers are protected from victimisation, prejudice, or assassinations.
“Failure to provide whistle-blowers with protection under our system will prevent us from ever reaching our goal of eliminating corruption in our nation.” DM